Inverness, Scotland: Old Photos & Films

The City of Inverness is the largest settlement in the Highland Council area of Scotland. Over the past century, visits from notable royals and politicians, as well as cultural events celebrating Scottish heritage, have drawn filmmakers to the area. 

The City Through The Decades

Old Photographs Inverness Scotland

A great selection of old photos taken from a variety of locations.

The 1920s

New Colours For The Camerons (1920)

Prince Albert, the Duke of York, was newly made a Colonel when this even occurred. In front of an audience and The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, a ceremony involving flags takes place. 

Next, the Scottish soldiers march through the city streets, cheered on by large crowds of spectators.

Prince Albert in 1920

In April 1920, Prince Albert – or Bertie as his friends and family called him – was forced to end an infatuation with the married Australian socialite Lady Loughborough.

Now aged 25, he accepted the offer of the Dukedom from his father, King George V, in return. On 4 June 1920 his father created him Duke of York, Earl of Inverness and Baron Killarney.

But his marriage in 1923 still broke with convention, when he wed the aristocratic Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (youngest daughter of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne) instead of royalty.

In 1936 his father died and his brother briefly became King Edward VIII, though Edward abdicated by the end of the year to marry the twice-divorced American Mrs Simpson. At that point, Bertie became King George VI.

And if you’ve watched the feature film ‘The King’s Speech’, you’ll know about his battle to overcome a speech impediment for his new, and unexpected role.

Historic Cabinet Meeting (1921)

During the Irish War of Independence, rule by the king was rejected. Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George was on holiday in Gairloch, Wester Ross. His deputy was also in the Highlands and King George V was at Moy. So he called a crisis meeting of his cabinet at the nearest suitable location.

This was the first and only Cabinet meeting of the British Government outside Downing Street or Chequers. Cabinet Ministers, including David Lloyd-George and Winston Churchill, arrived for a Cabinet meeting in the city’s Town House on 7 September 1921. 

The meeting led to the drawing up of the Inverness Formula, which guided later discussions on the treaty creating the Irish Free State.

Lots of people came to watch all these notables arriving. What’s funny to modern eyes are the stray dog and people on bicycles who weave around the important visitors with no security to stop them. When the crowds press forward, though, the police grip hands to form a barrier.

Northern Meeting Scotland (1921)

Climax of the Highland Season, footage of the gathering includes a man tossing a caber, men vault over a wooden horse with a person kneeling on top of it, and a band of pipers and drummers.

Inverness Bowling Club (1926)

The short, silent footage opens with ‘The Winning Team – Inverness Bowling Club, sitting with their cup:

  • No. 1 – A J Maclean
  • No. 2 – D C Wilson
  • No. 3 – D R Munro
  • Skip-President, John MacKenzie

Inverness Northern Counties Bowling Association Rink Competition, played at the Inverness & Highland Club Greens is then shown. June 9th 1926. There are some houses in the background, but action is focussed on the competition.

A Highland Hercules (1928)

Mr E. Anderson was a Police Constable. In his spare time, he was Scotland’s champion athlete.

Muscle And Music (1928)

Piping bands, sword dancers. Mr E. Anderson appears again. He’s 25 years old and has won 132 prizes at games this year.

The 1930s

The Prince In The Highlands (1931)

Prince Edward, Prince of Wales (crowned King Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor, in 1936, the same year he abdicated) visited the city in 1931 to receive Freedom of the Burgh. Wearing Highland dress, the Prince is accompanied by  Provost MacEwen, meets General Sir Ian Hamilton (President of the British Legion) and a Boy Scout leader, and inspects some of the 600 ex-servicemen and veterans on parade.

He goes from the new boys scouts headquarters to the Town Hall, via towns packed with spectators. The guard of Honour was formed by the Seaforth Highlanders, of which the Prince was Colonel in Chief.

“Watch him greet a Scout friend with a left handshake, and then another acquaintance, this time with a right hand, and he has to remember all these little things.”

The narrator emphasises how hard working the Prince is – having to remember etiquette, ask people about where they served, and listen to long speeches.

So we are clearly supposed to sympathise when we hear that late that evening the Prince slipped away to play some golf.

Now For A Couple Of Minutes In Inverness Aka Two Minutes In Inverness (1935)

A British Pathé film notes that on Sunday and ‘flag days’ the town falls quiet. 

We see the River Ness, the old part of town, the Cathedral and CAstle with comments about how recently they were built, and a statue to Flora MacDonald (1722 – 5 March 1790). She helped Charles Edward Stuart evade government troops after the Battle of Culloden in April 1746, despite her family’s support for the government.

Finally we see Loch Ness, with a couple of 1930s cars driving along the waterside road.

Inverness (1930-1939)

Part of the British Pathé collection, this may have been filmed for New Empire News. It’s a short black and white silent clip showing Scottish soldiers on parade.

Easter 1959 in Scotland – 5 Pickersgill at Inverness

Steam trains filmed in colour on 2nd April 1959.

The 1960s

Highlanders Freedom (1961)

In 1961, The Seafroth Highlanders and the The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders merged into The Queen’s Own Highlanders. In 1994, the unit was to be further modified, amalgamating with The Gordon Highlanders to form The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons).

This British Pathé newsreel opens with a lovely shot of the city from a high vantage point. Then we see spectators watching the soldiers parade through the street.

In the Playhouse Cinema, civic dignitaries and soldiers held an official event, with a Freedom Scroll handover. Brigadier Grant Peterkin, Provost R. Wotherspoon, J Cameron the town clerk and Lieutenant Colonel W Baird appear.

Finally, the Regiment marched past the Town House.

Gathering Of The Clans (1966)

First the location of the Battle of Culloden, then the Gathering of the Clans in a parade ground.

We see Colonel Sir Donald Hamish Cameron of Lochiel (12 September 1910 – 26 May 2004), who was the 26th Chief of Clan Cameron, a Scottish landowner, and a financier. 

Women appear in uniform. Young children dance in a competition. Traditional sports.

The 1970s

1970s Tourists at Inverness Castle Scotland

What appears to be an orchestra or wind band from abroad visit the castle.

Into The 90s And Beyond

A Tribute to Bex Bar Inverness mkII

Photo montage of Bex Bar with lots of people appearing.

British Rail train walkthrough, June 1994, Inverness, Scotland

Remember when trains had payphones? And toilet doors that closed without suddenly opening two minutes later?

Thursday, June 30, 1994 at 7 a.m. at Inverness train station. Half way through is a glimpse of the almost deserted station.

At the end someone’s struggling into the carriage with a big bulky suitcase – because suitcase wheels still hadn’t been invented.

Inverness 2010 – Around Town

Lovely soundtrack to views of historic buildings.